HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Cities Pushing For Their Share Of Crime Proceeds
Pubdate: Sat, 08 May 2004
Source: Tri-City News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004, Tri-City News
Authors: Kevin Diakiw, and Kate Trotter
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


About $100 million worth of proceeds of crime have been seized by the
B.C. and federal governments over six years but cities haven't
received a penny of it for local policing.

Like other municipalities that foot the bill for RCMP, Port Coquitlam
wants some of the booty to help pay the costs of crime-fighting.

"I think our police need more resources to help tackle some of these
larger problems," said Coun. Greg Moore, chair of the protective
services committee.

"It takes hundreds of hours to properly investigate and take down a
[marijuana] grow-op if you want to tackle it correctly [and] not have
it open up a few doors down."

Last fall, municipal governments sent a message through the Union of
B.C. Municipalities asking the federal government to arrange for the
"transfer of the proceeds of disposition of forfeited property by the
federal government directly to the local government where the original
investigation was conducted."

Goods seized typically include grow-op equipment and stolen property,
said Const. Jane Baptista, spokesperson for Coquitlam RCMP. The items
not used for evidence are stored locally until the court makes the
decision on what is forfeited.

Federally, the assets can be seized through proceeds of crime
legislation enacted in 1989. Usually, the criminal code offences are
drug-related, and a small portion is shared with the provinces to help
cover policing costs.

Audited statements obtained by MetroValley News Group indicate that
between 1996 and 2001, federal proceeds of crime collected totalled
$123 million. After costs, that figure totalled $81.1 million, of
which B.C. got just over $1 million for its share of policing; other
provinces received similar sums. Ottawa used the remaining $66 million
to pay for the Integrated Proceeds of Crime (IPOC) units, which have
offices in 13 Canadian cities. IPOC traces and seizes assets in cases
involving, drugs, smuggling and terrorism. Annually, IPOC runs at a

The second way goods can be seized is if the crime involves a
provincial prosecutor. Crimes in these cases are largely vice,
involving fraud, gaming, theft and prostitution. Between 1996 and
2001, the province collected more than $12 million, according to
documents obtained by MetroValley News Group through Freedom of
Information. All of that money remained in the province to pay for
policing needs such as computer systems, cars, training and record
keeping, the documents indicate.

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman is looking to increase the amount
of goods seized by using an arcane section of the British North
America Act allowing the province to seize goods through civil action,
known as civil forfeiture. In that case, suspects would have to prove
the goods were not the proceeds of crime.

As the total take increases, so does the cry from municipalities to
share the proceeds to cover local costs.

"In order to do the surveillance, in order to obtain a warrant, in
order to go through the court system - all of that is done through our
local RCMP officers," said Surrey Coun. Dianne Watts, who helped
spearhead the campaign for the municipalities' share. "A portion of
that absolutely must come back to the municipalities because that's
where the work is being done."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin